angel olsen

Angel Olsen @ Il Motore – May 8th 2014

It’s a wonderful thing when an opening band deliciously whets one’s appetite for the headliner. The subtle form of an echo reversed that announces what is yet to come.

Promised Land Sound waded into a pool of throbbing dalliances and splashed around causing delight. The collection of skater boys played as if they occupied those stage spots since they were seven or eight years old. A casual and effortless sound that rafted into the country side of things and was the perfect flip side for Angel Olsen’s eventual emergence. The band’s name is perfectly fitting as the promised land they represent through sound is without strict categories or genres. Instead, Promised Land Sound taps into all the currents and carry on the flow from South into the North. Their song ‘Empty Vase’ was an ending song in the set and fit the decor of Il Motore perfectly. The venue was moody, dusty, and comfortable, just like an empty vase, and Promised Land Sound’s performance filled it up with rapidly blooming guitar alongside a luscious drum beat.

You know what, I take back my original categorization of Promised Land Sound as an appetizer before the main course of Angel Olsen. Promised Land Sound ain’t no small dish. Promised Land Sound is the first dinner of two.

However, Angel Olsen is one hell of a second dinner. Enough with the food metaphors though, Angel Olsen stands apart from any other singer I’ve seen and I’ve seen quite a few. Angel Olsen, supported by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and the Cairo Gang, sings with an incredible candor. Her voice seems to still your breath and inject it into her raspy voice. Words escape me in attempting to describe her voice. She could be a witch sentenced to be burnt at the stake for the enchanting townsfolk and yet the fire would only smoulder in submission of the greater fire within her. Angel Olsen could be the mermaid gracing the front of a pirate ship whose voice gathers salty strength from the sea. Angel Olsen could have the voice of any bewitching female whose cadence was never recorded. Her voice could have found a home in Catherine of ‘Wuthering Heights’.

The voice is one of courageous heartbreak and solace. Her latest album ‘Burn Your Fire for no Witness’ is one received rave reviews, but the recording doesn’t come close to portraying the originality of her voice. Although the instrumental work is phenomenal, the lyrics and indescribable culmination of rasp, sass, and sweetness within her voice cannot be heard through a stereo or any type of listening device. It’s the difference between wanting to be an incarcerated fellow when Johnny Cash was recording ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ at a prison and slipping the vinyl out of it’s sheath to be played after it’s release. In fact, Angel Olsen sings like a daughter of Johnny Cash would. Even when listening to Olsen presently as I write this review, I ache for a transportation back to the show at Il Motore. But this fire burns for no witness, as Angel Olsen would sing. Instead, I’ll just urge whoever is reading this to tap and click as fast as your fingers can to find an Angel Olsen and Promised Land Sound show near you!

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